|Berkshire Health Systems Employees Achieve 90% COVID-19 Vaccination Rate|
PITTSFIELD, MA – After announcing mandatory employee COVID-19 vaccination in early August, Berkshire Health Systems has seen a significant increase in the number of employees who have received the vaccine. When the mandatory vaccination policy was announced, nearly 80% of the BHS workforce had been vaccinated. In the following weeks, that rate has risen to 90%.
“We’re very proud of the tremendous accomplishments of our BHS team since the beginning of the pandemic 15 months ago. Our vaccination rate is just one more indication of our team’s commitment to caring for our community,” said David Phelps, President and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems. “With the FDA’s recent full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, many employees who had been awaiting this approval have stepped forward to be vaccinated. This helps to protect their colleagues, our patients, and the community we all serve.” The FDA gave final approval to the Pfizer vaccine on August 23rd, and BHS Chief Medical Officer and Chief Quality Officer Dr. James Lederer said this represents a pivotal moment in the pandemic.
“Full approval carries with it the confirmation that the Pfizer vaccine is safe, effective and has met the rigorous standards required by the FDA. We hope that this offers reassurance to those who are cautious about receiving the vaccine,” said Lederer. “Over the past 18 months, publicly available scientific information about COVID-19 and its vaccines has changed rapidly.”
Dr. Lederer points out that all three vaccines were given emergency use authorization after undergoing rigorous testing. Since the introduction of the vaccines, robust monitoring programs have been in place to address safety concerns. To date, there have been no reported long-term side effects associated with COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines are the most effective way of preventing serious illness caused by COVID-19. In Massachusetts, over 5 million people have received at least one dose, of which 4 million are fully vaccinated.
“While cases continue to rise across the state, hospitalizations remain relatively low in comparison to earlier in the pandemic,” said Dr. Lederer. “We now know that the highly contagious Delta variant can infect individuals who are vaccinated, however fully vaccinated people are much less likely to be hospitalized or die than those who are unvaccinated.”
Berkshire Health Systems continues to encourage community members to continue learning about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines from trusted sources such as the CDC, FDA, and WHO. The BHS Testing Centers in Pittsfield and North Adams, and Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington provide the COVID-19 vaccine. Walk-ins are welcome. To speak with a trained healthcare professional who can answer questions about COVID-19 vaccination or to make a vaccine appointment, call 1-855-BMC-LINK (1-855-262-5465).